August 26, 2013

REVIEW: ASK MY MOOD RING HOW I FEEL by Diana Lopez

  
“The only thing I knew for sure was that I had issues.  Lots of issues.  No wonder my mood ring kept changing!  It went from black for tense to pink for uncertain to white for frustrated. I kept waiting to see blue, the color for calmness and peace, but no such luck.  With all the craziness in my life, I couldn’t see blue, if I looked at the sky.”  --- Erica “Chia” Montenegro, age 14





If I had a mood ring, it would be blue for Happy!  I wish Erica was real so I could give her and the Robins hugs! 

Author Diana Lopez has done an excellent job in capturing the spirit of the average American teen.  ASK MY MOOD RING HOW I FEEL is about teenagers, cancer, promesas, family, friendship and miracles.  When cancer invades the home, it changes everything and everyone.  Sometimes parents need to be taken care of, and sometimes children must become more responsible.  Family and friends are affected as well for no man is an island, or in this case, no Robin stands alone. 

Lopez has created great characters that leap off the page and into our hearts.  By the end of the book we want to live in Erica’s neighborhood, join the Robins and walk with her on the 5k run.  

This book is good for teens and adults.  I am sharing mine with my 13-year old niece, Joliz.  She loves it as well, and is already on page 123 after two days.

Lopez is to be commended for taking a scary subject and showing how the love of family and friends, and the help of the community, can heal and comfort.  Bravo.---mcf


BOOK SUMMARY:   It’s May and Erica “Chia” Montenegro is looking forward to the summer before eighth grade.  There is the annual family summer vacation to the beach and hanging out at the pool with her 4 BFFs, the Robins -- 3 girls and 1 boy who have been her best friends since kindergarten.  The summer is a flop when her pesky sister skips a grade and will now be going to her school.  But worse than that, her mother is diagnosed with cancer.  The family takes a trip to the shrine of the statue of La Virgen de San Juan del Valle, to say a special prayer for her mother and to make a promesa – a “thank you” promise to God.  He helps her mom and each family member promises to do something in return.  (A promesa is not a bribe.)

Chia promises to join the 5k run for breast cancer and get 500 sponsors.  But making a promise is easier than fulfilling it.  Not everyone wants to donate to cancer and some have bigger problems of their own.  Suddenly Chia’s life is intense and her mood ring stuck on black.  Things like boys, parties, and having fun with the Robins seem silly under the gloom of cancer. 

Chia feels lost and scared.  She bottles up her feelings so the Robins don’t know what is happening to her or how she truly feels.  Chia doesn’t want their cheesy advice or for them to feel sorry for her.  When her grades drop, her teachers call for a parent-teacher conference, where she is finally able to open up about her fears.  Her parents realize the pressure they’ve unknowingly placed on her and her teachers learn what is happening at home.  Together they all come up with a plan to help Chia both at home and at school.   

Her mood ring is finally a color other than black, but she doesn’t worry about it anymore.  Chia has come to realize that parents are real people; that they can need her too; that sometimes she has to be more adult; that it’s alright to be a kid; that it’s alright to be friends with your pesky little sister; and that real miracles do happen when family and friends work together.###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Diana Lopez is the author of the novels CHOKE and CONFETTI GIRL, which won the 2012 William Allen White Children’s Book Award.  She is the editor of the literary magazine Huizache and managing director of CentroVictoria, an organization devoted to promoting Mexican American literature.  Diana lives in South Texas and teaches at the University of Houston-Victoria.  Visit her at www.dianalopezbooks.com.